We are preparing to paint or stain interior basement stairs in a rental house. What product would be best for finishing the treads? We need to consider durability, non-slick surface and fast dry/cure time.


~20 years landlord experience, we learned to stop painting all the trim white and use poly. It looks nicer/more expensive and does not definitely need attention every time it's up for rent. Paint gets dirty, urethane just looks properly aged.

Whatever it is, if it's made out of lumber, stain and urethane it.

  • Will urethane make it slippery? And is solid stain a good choice, given the steps aren't in perfect condition? – RET Feb 21 '15 at 4:59
  • @RET Slippy-er than bare wood, yes. Then paint IDK, unless you use anti-skid. If there's heavy damage you may want to just paint them or urethane without stain. You said 'preparing' I pictured nice pretty bare wood, easy to sand; if there's paint already just paint 'em. Wanting durability over dry time, use oil based. – Mazura Feb 21 '15 at 5:33
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    @RET: It was slippery at first but as it wore, it came to have more traction than the bare wood. This was in a college house for 50 males. For the first 3-4 coats of urethane, it is fine to sand between to keep it smooth. But for the last few coats, do not sand so it stays a bit rougher. – wallyk Feb 21 '15 at 6:17
  • They aren't heavily damaged, just some old embedded paint in the 'grooves', and along the nose of the tread. We need to use a solid coverage product so the old paint would be completely covered. Would oil paint or solid stain be the most durable? – RET Feb 22 '15 at 3:46
  • @RET An appropriate number of coats of urethane (3 or more) would be more durable, but it will be a lot more work. Painted floors might show noticeably in 1~2 years. A wood finish; upwards of 10. – Mazura Feb 22 '15 at 4:44

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